Dealing with loss

We can experience loss in many different ways. May it be someone passing away, the end of a relationship, leaving a job, moving away or many other things. We all deal differently with loss and there is no right or wrong way to do so. Some people prefer to take time on their own and some jump right into a busy life filled with work and socializing. The right healing process for you depends on who you are.

Symptoms of grief

Grief is your own reaction towards loss. It is your personal experience and how your body and mind responds towards it. There are many different symptoms you might experience, here are just a few examples:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling tired and frustrated
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Change of appetite
  • Need to drink alcohol or take drugs

Stages of grief

Not everyone experiences grief in the same order of phases and with some a phase might last longer than for the other. From my experience, these are the phases that I went through:

  1. Denying the pain. In the beginning, it is hard to face reality and you don't want to face it yet. You continue living your life and haven't given yourself the proper time yet to fully deal with what has happened.
  2. Being angry or frustrated. You feel sad and disappointed. You get a rush of feelings and can't control them.
  3. Feeling of guilt. You blame yourself for what has happened and can't seem to think about anything else. You get stuck thinking about the past and think of ways that could have prevented the current situation.
  4. Depression. This is the stage that is most dangerous in my opinion. A feeling of depression is normal towards what you are experiencing and you may notice some symptoms of a depression, while you are in this phase. But be aware that this is temporary and not permanent. I have written a post about yoga and depression a few months ago as well.
  5. Accepting the reality. This is the last phase of grief and it may take some longer than others to reach this stage. It is the phase where you accept what has happened and try to move on facing the reality.

How to deal with a loss

There are different approaches to how to cope with a loss. Some may work better and some not so much. I have experienced a lot of loss in my past including losing a family member and tough relationships. Here are some of my tips that have helped me to slowly deal with loss:

  • Give yourself time. This is the most important tip I can give. Time heals almost everything. Don't put too much pressure on yourself as everyone heals in a very different way. Patience is the key word here.
  • Find support from friends, family or a support group. Not everyone has the courage to open up to friends and family, whenever they experience grief. It may take time to do this step, so luckily there are still other options. You can find plenty of online support groups that help each other out and you can also join private chats to talk about what is going on, for example on Seven Cups of Tea.
  • Find your space to feel grief. For some, it may be meditation or yoga, or for some, it may be just a cozy space at home or in the park. Give yourself room to let out your emotions and don't feel embarrassed or ashamed of it. Emotions are what makes us human. Therefore, it is totally fine if you have the need to cry or to let out any anger. 
  • Seek professional help, if needed. Whenever you feel that you can't cope with the grief anymore and don't know what else to do, this may be a hint to look for a therapist. Many therapists, either when meeting them physically or online, offer a trial session to give you an insight into therapy. I know that many people criticise therapy and think you are a weak person that is in a bad place. But to be honest, I see people that consider therapy as exactly the opposite. They are strong enough and courageous to open up their entire life and deal one by one with every issue that is a struggle in the present to find complete happiness and peace. It takes a lot of power to do so and I have great respect for everyone that follows this path.

How yoga can help you with grief

You may have experienced physical pain, whenever you had to cry or felt incredibly sad. Such as a pain in your chest, close towards your heart. This is not just an imagination, but also reality. The increase of stress hormones when feeling anxious and sad results in a higher blood flow, which can let your muscles feel tenser. I often experience chest pain when I feel sad, which is why I practice certain yoga poses to open up this area and release the tension. I see a connection between my pain when experiencing loss, to the energy of my heart chakra. The heart chakra is our energy center for love and compassion, situated in our chest close to the physical heart. Whenever I experience a feeling of loss, I feel this energy center blocked and not able to open up. A yoga practice around opening this chakra helps me to release these blockages and enable a steady energy flow. Some poses I include in this practice are backbends and chest openers such as Bhujangasana, Ustrasana, and Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Is there an end to grief?

Personally, I think it really depends on yourself. I have been dealing with loss for years and whenever I thought I have reached the stage of acceptance, I have had days where it has thrown me right back into a depressive state. I fight every day against it and whenever I feel that I need some time to be emotional and feel grief, I give myself that time. You may even find out that you are experiencing a loss without thinking of it.

We are all different and need to find our own way what is best for us to cope with grief. But I am highly optimistic, that if you believe you can handle it, you are able to do so. An optimistic mindset is a great foundation to deal with loss and definitely makes it easier going through the stages of it.